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Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI)

Recruitment Processes

larval Alaska plaice illustration
Figure 1.  Larval Alaska plaice (Pleuronectes quadrituberculatus).  Illustration by Beverly Vinter.

Janet Duffy-Anderson attended the 7th International Flatfish Symposium convened in Sesimbra, Portugal, 1-9 November. She presented work describing the patterns of abundance and distribution of Alaska plaice (Pleuronectes quadrituberculatus) eggs, larvae (Fig. 1), and pelagic juveniles over the southeastern Bering Sea shelf.

Results from the paper suggest that connectivity between spawning areas and nursery habitats is influenced by wind forcing. Climate-mediated changes to dispersal trajectory or timing is expected to have significant impacts on recruitment in this species, though entrainment in consistent, directional currents may modify these effects. Dr. Duffy-Anderson was invited to take a more active role in the future planning of symposia by this group.

Knut Vollset, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bergen, Norway, was a visiting scientist with the Recruitment Processes Program from 15 August 2008 to 15 February 2009. Knut is a student of Professor Arild Folkvord and studies environmental and behavioral factors that influence the distribution of early life stages of marine fishes, mainly herring and cod.

In Seattle, Knut conducted experiments with Dr. Kevin Bailey on conditions influencing feeding rates of small marine fishes, using sticklebacks as a model predator. Knut also did a cooperative project with Dr. Paul Hershberger at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) Western Fish Disease Laboratory on the effects of viral infections on herring's susceptibility to predators. In addition, Knut participated in an EcoFOCI cruise on the NOAA ship Miller Freeman led by Janet Duffy-Anderson 8-20 September 2008.

juvenile Pacific cod
Figure 2.  Juvenile Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus).  Photo by Catherine Mecklenburg.

Thomas Hurst (Newport Laboratory) visited with several members of the Recruitment Processes Program, 15-18 December to obtain historical collections of Pacific cod larvae and juveniles (Fig. 2) from the EcoFOCI program for a North Pacific Research Board (NPRB)-funded project that uses otolith microchemistry to estimate the contribution of larvae from Gulf of Alaska stocks to the Bering Sea. Dr. Hurst brought with him an Oregon State University student and a visiting international student who worked with EcoFOCI scientists to identify and dissect early life history stages of Pacific cod from the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.

  figure 3, see caption

Figure 3.  Path of satellite drifters released as part of EcoFOCI studies in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea.  Drifter paths show currents that can affect the dispersion of larvae.

Tiffany Vance gave an invited talk at the 3rd National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Workshop on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in Weather, Climate and Impacts (27-29 October 2008) where she presented work on integrating the results of in situ data and models using GIS and visualizations. While visualization tools provide appealing pictures of complicated data, they can also be coupled with GIS to provide advanced analyses.

New tools for the representation of multidimensional data allow users to visualize and interact with datasets such as three-dimensional output from particle tracking models or the paths of satellite-tracked drifters (Fig. 3). Analyses can include characterizations of the environment encountered by larvae and the delineation of essential habitats for pelagic larvae.

Dr Vance's talk "Moving beyond data visualization for just visual impact–coupling environmental models, particle tracking and spatial analyses using multidimensional GIS" focused on recent developments in interoperability, such as the direct ingestion of netCDF data in ArcGIS and the use of Java tools for data analysis, and how these developments enhance our ability to represent multidimensional data in GIS.

Examples of applications to study the dispersion of rock sole larvae and the survival of walleye pollock larvae were presented (Fig. 4 below).

figure 4, see caption
Figure 4.  Map view (left) and oblique view (right) of the potential paths of rock sole larvae based upon running a particle tracking model on top of the ROMS circulation model.  Data from Lanksbury et al. 2007.

More information on the workshop is available on the web at

By Ann Materese, Tiffany Vance, and Jeff Napp

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